Select Page

West Virginia Car Seat Laws

A Summary of Child Car Seat Laws in West Viginia – WVCar Seat Laws as they apply to the state of West Virginia

  • The law requires all children under the age of 8 years to be restrained in a child passenger safety device system that meets federal standards.
  • Although the law only requires that children under the age of 8 should be restrained in a child safety system, best practices dictate that:
    • Infants should ride rear-facing until they are at least  2 years old or until they exceed the manufacturer’s weight and height limits.
    • Children should use a forward-facing seat equipped with an internal harness once they outgrow their rear-facing seats.
    • Booster seats should be used when children outgrow their forward-facing seats.
  • West Virginia law allows children 8 years or older or those 4’9’’ or taller to graduate to safety belts.
    • Best practices dictate that children should ride in the back seat until age 13.

West Virginia Car Seat Law

The law requires all children under the age of 8 years to be restrained in a child passenger safety device system that meets federal standards. The state allows children 4’9” or taller to use safety belts. West Virginia does not mention the specific age, weight, or height requirements for the different types of car seats.

Rear-facing Car Seat Laws in West Virginia

Infants should ride rear-facing for as long as possible. According to AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), infants should ride rear-facing until they are at least 2 years old or until they exceed the manufacturer’s weight and height limits. Babies riding in the forward-facing position are at greater risk of injury. In case of a crash, the baby’s large head may be thrown forward resulting in the baby’s spinal cord being stretched, and this can cause serious injuries. However, a rear-facing seat prevents this from happening by cradling the baby’s head, neck, and spine in the event of a head-on collision. Infants can ride on infant-only seats until they are at least 1 year old. These seats are perfect for newborns and can also double as infant carriers. To stay longer in the rear-facing position, infants should transition to convertible seats which have higher weight limits (up to 40 pounds). Children can remain rear-facing up to age 4. Also, rear-facing seats should be tightly installed in the rear of the car.

Forward-Facing Car Seat Laws in West Virginia

Children should use a forward-facing seat equipped with an internal harness once they outgrow their rear-facing seats. A seat with a five-point harness is recommended. The straps help in distributing the impact forces across the hips and chest areas to protect the child’s fragile body parts. Place the retainer clip at the same level as the infant’s armpit so that the shoulder straps can remain snug. For a proper fit, make sure that you can’t pinch extra strap material above the child’s shoulders. There are various types of forward-facing seats. The ones that are widely used are combination seats, forward-facing only seats, and convertible seats. If your child was using a convertible seat in the rear-facing position, you can turn the seat to face forward and use it as a forward-facing seat. Most seats can support up to 65 pounds, so this means children can ride on them until age 7, depending on their growth rate.

Booster Seat Regulations in West Virginia

Booster seats should be used when children outgrow their forward-facing seats. It is recommended that a child should weigh a minimum of 40 pounds before graduating to booster seats. West Virginia law allows children 8 years or older or those 4’9” or taller to graduate to safety belts. Booster seats are used to raise a child so that safety belts can fit properly. A proper fit means the lap portion lies low across the upper thighs while the shoulder portion lies snug across the center of the chest. Booster seats come in two sizes: high-back and backless booster seats. A high-back booster seat is much bigger and provides head support, while a backless booster seat can only be used in cars equipped with headrests. Booster seats should only be used with lap-shoulder belts. Using a lap-only belt is not recommended. When it comes to graduating to seat belts, your child should be tall enough (height of 4’9”) to fit in safety belts, even though the law allows children 8 years or older to stop using booster seats. Achieving the right height is important because a shorter height can cause the seat belt straps to be misplaced, and this can lead to severe neck and stomach injuries. Also, before using safety belts, the child should be able to sit all the way back against the seat with knees bent at the edge of the seat without slouching.

Requirements for children to use the front seat in West Virginia

The law does not mention the specific requirements for children to sit in the front seat. The AAP recommends children should ride in the back seat until age 13. If you must ride with a child in the front seat, make sure the passenger-side airbag is disabled or turned off.

Car Seat Law regarding Children under 18 years in West Virginia

The law requires children in this age group who are 8 years or older or those 4’9’’ or taller to be restrained with a federally approved safety belt.

Leaving a child in a car in West Virginia

There are no laws regarding leaving children unattended in cars. It is not recommended that you leave your child unattended in a vehicle for any length of time.

Smoking in a car with a child in West Virginia

It is not illegal to smoke in a car with child passengers. We do not recommend smoking in a vehicle with children present.

Car Seat Law Exemptions in West Virginia

The law exempts cars for hire from complying with the state’s car seat laws.

Law on Car Seat Replacement in West Virginia

There is no law regarding the replacement of car seats. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends replacing car seats after a severe or moderate accident.

More West Virginia Laws